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Wansview NCB541W

Features and some setup information

This page is a "leaf" on a tree with information about remote sensing. It is a leaf of the branch about putting an IP camera (a bit like a webcam, or CCTV) on your LAN, either for local viewing, or, if you want to "open the doors", viewing from afar across the internet.

If you are just getting started with using IP cams, you may want to visit an overview of using IP cams I have provided.

Ad from sponsor, only distantly related to viewing images from afar:

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But! Back to the point of this page: Information about a specific IP cam. (IP cams are like webcams, but they connect to a LAN via TCP as opposed to connecting to a single PC, e.g. via USB). Here you will find information specific to one camera... see the parent of this page for more general points on using IP cams.

Features of Wansview NCB541W- why buy one?

The first thing to mention about "this" camera is that you can buy many, many very similar devices... but with dissimilar names... and a different model number every time, as far as I have seen. The brand may be....

Foscam's manuals are quite easy to find for download...., e.g. http://www.foscam.com/Private/ProductFiles/FI8918W user manual.pdf (But that camera does not have the, to me, highly desireable external trigger input.)

I found the manual for my Wansview NCB541W at http://www.wansview.com/news/news-0001,0020,0035.shtml

Don't think "Oh, I don't need the pan and tilt." For the price you can just ignore it. Or, I would guess, get similar software in a simpler Wansview camera.

Do be advised that their support and user community seem to be limited. HOWEVER: The software inside the camera, and the image quality: very good. Lots of features, options... if you can get it to work as it would seem it should. In common with many IPCams, you don't need to pollute your machine with the camera manufacturer's software, if you know what you are doing. Plug the camera in to your wired LAN. Find the IP address it is at... mine came up at 192.168.0.190... enter the control panel (default user and p/w: "admin"/"123456") and you are in heaven! They don't tell you how to deal with the general issues of setting up any IPCam... why should they?... but they give you excellent tools for managing the necessary settings, and the many features... including external alarm input and output hardware. (You can trigger the camera's picture taking with a switch, or trip your other alarm system when the camera sees motion. The NC543W, without the pan and tilt, also seems to have the external I/O feature, but the NC546W does not.) (Jump to section for Wansview NCB541)

Who cares about the multiple brands with inconsistent model numbers? I wouldn't... if I didn't need to turn to internet for things like the syntax for logging in with a password and user ID using a URL. But I do. And the forums I tried were little visited, and not adequately monitored by the parent company. It's why I usually pay extra for products from companies with one brand, active user communities and responsive support teams.

Having said that, I have to admit I like the camera, despite having "issues" with it seeming to misbehave. The price is great, the image quite nice. The pan and tilt a lot of fun, and included "free", if you want to look at it that way... find me a comparable camera at this price even without pan and tilt? (The NC543W, without the pan and tilt, also seems to have the external I/O fea6ture, but the NC546W does not.)

(I managed to buy a new Wansview NCB541W via eBay in October 2012 for only $45)

So... features...

This camera has "digital I/O": It can accept inputs from, for example, a switch. It can turn on external electronics, e.g. a "bell". More on this at my page on digital I/O in IP cams.

As I said... pan and tilt.

The software inside the camera, and the image quality were better than I am used to, being a mere hobbyist.

It has to be said that, in my experience, not all of the things which are supposed to work, implied by the settings you can make, actually work, or work as I would expect... but many of them do, even if some require some things you might not anticipate. For example, I couldn't get the camera to take pictures every 60 seconds unless the alarm function was turned off in two places. Sigh. Hey! You want better? Make it yourself! This does do lots of things.

You do not need to install any special software on your computer, at least if you use Firefox to access it. (Internet Explorer seems to need some ActiveX control. I think you can download it as needed, if you are so inclined.)

As is usually the case, if you know how, you can just plug the camera in to your wired LAN. Find the IP address it is at... mine came up at 192.168.0.190... enter the control panel (default user and p/w: "admin"/"123456") and you are in heaven! They don't tell you how to deal with the general issues of setting up any IPCam... but they give you good tools for managing the necessary settings, and the many features.

Users can be set up with full rights, see-picture-and-move-camera rights, and just see-picture rights. User passwords should be no more than 12 characters too long. If you specify a too long password, it will be truncated, BUT... when you enter the same too-long password in an attempt to get it, it will be rejected as "not matching". (There is no warning at the time you tried to establish the too-long password. Sigh.)

So! You have a Wansview NCB541W, you've caught your rabbit.

Making it perform!...

The examples which follow assume that your camera is not using your LAN's DCHP server, but rather has a fixed local address of 192.168.0.254

It assumes that your router has an external, WAN, IP address which is known to the internet generally by means of MyRouter.dyndns.org, by the magic of DDNS, or "dynamic directory name server" services.

If you have only one http server on your LAN, it can be at the standard port, 80, and you do not need to explicitly specify it. For the sake of the examples, we will assume that you camera has been put on port 81, so explicitly specifying a port can be illustrated. Just drop the ":81" which appears in many of the lines below if you are using the default port 80... or use ":80"... it will do no harm, and remind you to put the port in, if you go beyond one server. Which you would do if you added another camera, for example.

Default admin user: "admin". Default password: "123456"

To fetch a "snapshot" from the NCB541W, the "magic code" is something like.......

http://192.168.0.254:81/snapshot.cgi

or

http://MyRouter.DynDns.org:81/snapshot.cgi

... the first being the code you use if you are on the same LAN as the camera, the second being the code to access from afar, over the internet. (The second will also work "across" the LAN, but you will be "going around the houses".) (I won't be repeating the two variations after this, you have to remember they are there, use them as needed. The ":81" can be left out if you are using the standard port 80 for your IP cam, as discussed earlier.

The reason I had to qualify the above with the words "something like" is that the above will only work seamlessly if you are already logged into the NCB541W. (I don't know a way to log out, by the way, and it seems to restrict the number of concurrently logged in users. You can try to explicitly log in as a different user, as follows...)

Add the following to either command line to log in as user "guest" with password "GPW", assuming that both have been set up inside the camera. (That would be by you!)

http://guest:GPW@192.168.0.254:81/snapshot.cgi

At least under Firefox, if you want to enter something like the above, the "http://" must be typed. While "bbc.co.uk" is fine for "http://www.bbc.co.uk", if you are using the ":@" user name/ password mechanism, you must type the http://.

I have to confess that I had not seen that way of passing user name and password to a device before. Live and learn! Thank you....

http://www.chumby.com/guide/widget/Dual Cams

... for putting that online.

To repeat something I said further up the page, I found the manual for my Wansview NCB541W at http://www.wansview.com/news/news-0001,0020,0035.shtml

And re-phrasing things I've also said elewhere, I am now going to paste in something I first wrote elsewhere which repeats some things in a different way and adds one or two new things...

http://pg:12@192.168.0.243:86/snapshot.cgi

... gets you a snapshot, at least under Firefox, if you have...

... and, I think, you don't have too many users all trying to connect that way at once! ("Unavail" may be a sign of THAT problem. I don't know how to "drop" users... I think their log on dies by timeout. After the above, a user can just do...

http://192.168.0.243:86/snapshot.cgi

... for a while.

Note that, at least on my system, you NEED the :86, even if you are merely accessing the device across your LAN, not from "outside".

If you have multiple users set up on your camera, you can switch between users... if the one you are going to isn't already using too many connections for other users... (or is it "if there aren't already too many total current users connected to the camera?)... by using the long URL with the username and password at the start of it.

So far, so good? Once you can connect to the camera across the LAN, you can move on to trying to access it across the internet, "across the WAN".

You'll need either a static IP address, which is beyond the means of many of us, or working dyndns service.. which isn't "hard" to arrange, and I've explained elsewhere, as it isn't specific to the NCB541.

Once you have the dyndns service in place, you should be able to access the camera across the internet just as you accessed across the LAN, but you replace what was "192.168.0.243" in my examples with the URL that your dyndns service has provided you with... and you need to tell your firewalls that it is okay to accept the incoming requests to the camera.



The text in this paragraph began near the end of September, 2012. At the time, I had just set up an NCB541W, and "I was in love", as May Cotter would have said.

Oops. But. Well, I was for 24 hours. Problems soon emerged. Will I continue using the camera. Almost certainly. Happily? No. I like to be able to rely on equipment, get reasonable support, and not be "shilled". But back to setup issues...

If anyone knows any command line parameters which can be used with that, say to specify resolution, I'd love to know about them. The answer may be in the interesting list at http://naiboo.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/wansview-nc541w-cgi-calls-over-web-interface/, but I haven't "got there" yet, if it is.

With the external trigger available in some variants of the camera, it could be set up to capture "time lapse" sequences, with the 640x480 images sent to an FTP server (Filezilla will do). With focus of down to 1cm, the sequence could be of a stick insect egg hatching. The lens can be changed... I believe mine came with a 67 degree view. Beware: Not all lenses will suit IR monitoring. (See eBay for lenses... as cheap as $6) (Or, if you can make it work, the internal "interval shoot" can be used, of course.) (Internal Interval Shoot will work... but configure the device with no ticks in either Alarm Detect boxes... it is not enough to merely un-tick any ways of triggering an alarm.)

My camera arrived with a damaged CD, and when I went looking online for the manual or user forums, I wasn't very successful.

Eventually someone pointed me to the manual... it was, it seems, not so very hard to find. Not sure why I didn't see it sooner.

By that time, I'd taken a chance on adding up snippets of information, and, on mine, it seems the two contacts closest to the side of the device are the two you would connect a switch to if you wanted to "say" "take a picture" by means of the external alarm input. A comment in another forum about a camera which seemed to be a re-badged NCB541 said that the manual which came with it was wrong, by the way.





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